tonight on "nightline," going nowhere. flat on their backs in the worst places or just trapped on the tarmac with no explanation. was the storm really that big? or is the nation's travel infra infrastructure really this weak? we survey an incredible wave of travel nightmares. towering toddlers. four feet tall at 4 years old. twice as big as their peers. before they suddenly stop growing for good. we look at a rare growth condition and a promising new treatment. and, the music man. they are timeless broadway hits. ♪ i like to be in america ♪
>> but today, their creator says they're embarrassing. stephen son him joins us for the "nightline" intervuchlt. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city this is "nightline," december 28th 2010. good evening. the book of job tells of a story of the man stricken with a nasty case of boils. on the bright side job never had to endure flight 830. but even passengers stuck on a plane for two days have no monopoly on traveler suffering. this holiday there's been so much tribulation go around john donvan reports on the truly exceptional travel nightmares of the holidays so far. >> reporter: next time you have a bad airline experience reflect on what passengers trying to navigate the northeast have been going through since sunday and seven tonight. now, can many flights equal for
awfulness, flight 830, which left hong kong bound for new york monday morning, but after flying 15 hours and only an hour from new york, it was diverted to canada was of weather. after waiting 11 hours in toronto, passengers took much ss ss took off for new york arriving in mild night. but they had to wait until 6:00 a.m. this morning, because there weren't gates available. they had to wait three hours after that until 8:45 this morning, when they werethere were customs agents available for them. >> i think it was -- i'm sure it's pretty like 40 hours. >> reporter: a now you're there, now you're not tease that left passengers disgruntled. >> i was very upset. very depressed. now i'm out, i can breathe. >> let's go! >> reporter: but for pure tease, consider the case of the new york subway systems a-train,
which sat stuck all night in the snow. >> we not going nowhere. >> reporter: not an airline story? well, several of the passengers had been stuck at kennedy waiting for their flights only to have them canceled and thought the subway was their ticket out of the situation. some of them appeared this morning on "good morning america." >> initially it was clear they were really making an effort to try to move the train. i think the employees wanted to get home as much as we did. but as the hours went by we heard less and less. >> reporter: then, there's newark airport, and the family trying to get to india today. you're looking at survival kicking in here. the way they have taken this window space and built a bed to keep warm. >> flight is going 9:20 tonight but we still don't know. >> reporter: they were on hour 30 of their journey by this point. they spent one night sleeping on the carpet. a second night in a hotel. but now they said they had to be here, just be here in case the
flight to india suddenly opened up for them. the mom, who first had smiled a lot, finally showed how it was really getting to her. >> nobody happy to stay like that, you know leave their work and stay here. >> reporter: there are a lot of these stories. hundreds of them really. and while most are more about extreme inconvenience than actual crisis does it seem that handling a weather stoppage taking care of passengers -- >> we'll also your question. >> reporter: is another one of those sides of the customer service experience that is getting worse, not better. >> the industry is built for sunny skies. >> reporter: scott mccartney a travel editor, thinks so. >> there are a lot-empty seats back before the airlines hit the financial troubles. it's a leaner industry. but much less prepared for major disruption. this has been part of the evolution of air travel since deregulation in 1978. and i don't think we've got it
right yet. >> reporter: the real problem is that there's not much you can do when this happens to you. it's not your fault, and you really can't fix it. >> please hold and your call will be answered in the order it was received. >> reporter: mccartney says it helps to accept that reality. >> for people who are stranded the most important thing is to be creative and to make the most of a bad situation. >> reporter: and that seems to be how pat was handling it. >> this is probably a trumpet. >> reporter: he and the 60 or so band members he was leading to rome from wilmington delaware, to perform for the pope later this week. they slept on the floor last night in a hotel ballroom in newark. and some of their group had actually gotten out today. >> part of our group here at the hotel last night left this morning to go to dulles in washington, d.c. >> reporter: and somehow this group still left behind just did not read gloomy. he puts it this way -- >> there's two ways to do this.
you get upset or you keep your chin up. >> reporter: in fact, he called it a character-builder. >> you know what, i think for kids, and my business is kids anything that teaches them something about the world they live in is good. >> reporter: and it's true. there wasn't much good about this for most people. >> terrible. >> reporter: this bad combination of all-out holidays and all-out weather. but it's also true you could find bright spots here. enough for the kids to say this. >> good evening, "nightline"! >> reporter: i'm john donvan for "nightline" in newark new jersey. >> character-building indeed. and we got word that the family trying to get back to india had their flight canceled again tonight. and now they hope to fly out tomorrow. good luck to them, and thanks to john donvan for that report. when we come back a rare condition that causes kids to grow to twice the size of their peers, and the treatment that
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anyone familiar with andre the giant is familiar with guy begantism, the result of production of human growth hor mon. but more unknown is albright's, it affects 1 in 20,000. and people with this disorder may be twice the size asof their peers as children, but suddenly their growth stops. here's vickyi mabrey.
>> reporter: at age four carter stands four feet tall and weighs 90 pounds. did you go to school today? >> yeah, i went outside. >> reporter: that's just a couple of inches shorter and nearly twice as heavy as his big sister kaylie, who is two years older. >> hi, i'm kaylie than is my brother carter. >> reporter: he's a loving little guy friendly and happy and playful as a puppy. he doesn't yet realize he's far bigger and heavier than other 4-year-olds. come show me where you sleep. >> reporter: dina first noticed her son's abnormal growth when he was just a baby. >> hen he was 8 months old, he was already almost 30 pounds and -- >> reporter: what's the usual weight at that age? >> probably half that. or less than that. i know something is not right. he's just not eating that much to be gaining this much weight. >> reporter: doctors implied she and her husband were the problem. what were they saying? >> i was basically accused. >> reporter: of overfeeding?
>> yeah. >> reporter: and it wasn't just doctors. in public, wherever they went dina says perfect strangers made it obvious they thought she was a bad mother. >> when he was in day care parents would comment to the workers that they needed to call child protective services on us for what we were doing to our child. if i was doing this, why would i keep taking him to so many doctors. >> reporter: and why wouldn't it be happening to kaylie, too? >> right. >> reporter: carter had other mysterious health problems, too. a heart murmur difficulty brooetding, bony deposits under his skin that felt like pebbles. but no doctor in their hometown of lufkin texas, could tell dina what was wrong. >> doctors would tell me something's wrong with him but you know we might not ever find out what it is. that's not good enough. >> he's just too heavy to pull himself up. >> reporter: it wasn't until she saw this discovery health special on an australian child with a round, chubby face who
looked a lot like carter that she had a name for what this might be. a doctor in dallas confirmed her suspicions. >> carter has a syndrome called albright's. there is two types of it two subtypes, the type he has is call ed called pseudohype hip poehype poe parathy roddism, type a. >> reporter: dina was referred here, to the kennedy krieger institute in baltimore, to the leading authority on albright's dr. emily jermainegermain-lee. albright's is rare either hereditary or occurs during a upon stain use mutation of egg
or sperm. it affects the parathy rod. >> it's very important to maintain normal calcium and phosphorous balance in the blood. if it's not working, the calcium fulls, the phosphate rises and eventually, the calcium could get so low that the patient could have a seizeureseizure. >> reporter: the strange thing about the kids is that by puberty, 70% of them stop growing. boys top out around five feet. girls at 4'8". that led dr. germaine lee to study the affects of growth hormone on albright's patients. like stephen, from colorado who has a mild case. >> you're so tall. oh, my gosh. really, i can't breathe. it's amazing. >> reporter: he had the usual albright's characteristics as a baby, then appeared normal
through childhood. but afraid that he would stop growing during adolescence, dr. germaine lee put him on growth hormone for five years. >> when i see you, i'm just blown away, you know? i'm getting choked up. you are the dream of what i wanted to see happen and -- and it happened. >> reporter: and it's been a god send. how many inches do you think you grew on the growth hormone? >> like seven inches i think. >> he ended up being just a little under 5'8" which is his final height and they think he would have been maybe 5'1" 5'2" at the most. >> reporter: and how are you feeling about all of this? >> great. i'm just like a normal person now, so -- normal kid in high school. >> reporter: brian and nicole roberts want the same outcomb for their daughter clara kate. she was started on gout mother moan three years ago, and as her
mother says, she's growing like a weed. >> and with her shortened toes is that interfering, you think, with any of the activities? >> i mean, this is you know child who did walk until she was 2 years old. >> it's incredible how far she's come. i want to find new treatments for this condition, not just keeping them stable in terms of their blood tests. but to actually improve their quality of life, self-esteem and go on to work on other problems that are huge issues in their life, such as the obesity and the cognitive issues. >> reporter: relieving symptoms, making life normal. that's been the goal up until now. are we looking at a condition that is just going to respond to treatment, are we looking at something that can actual liqueured at some point? >> not so much a cure but taking each problem step by step and improving, you know, what's known.
>> reporter: soon, carter will be tested for growth hormone deficiency, and he can start treatment after that. like dr. germaine lee, he mom hopes for a cure. recognizeing that might be a long wait. this is vicki mabrey in tk texasexas. >> thanks to vicki mabrey for that report. coming up, he is the composer of broadway shows like "west side story." we sit down with stephen sondheim next.
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continues from new york city with bill weir. >> you know a few blocks from this desk exists the greatest collection of stage actors singers and dancers on the planet. but all the talent on broadway would be little more than breathing props if not for the playwrights, composures and leer cysts who give them something to do. and among those creative giants few are more revered than stephen sondheim, a humble living legend as you're about to see, as he sits down with john berman for the "nightline" interview. ♪ i like to be in america ♪ ♪ okay by me in america ♪ ♪ everything free in america ♪ >> reporter: "west side story." one of the most celebrated historic musicals of all time. so, what does the man who wrote the lyrics think of his words now? >> embarrassing. you know "west side" is on broadway right now and it's very hard for me to listen to it. >> reporter: embarrassing? really? only a man who has won eight
tonys, a grammy and an oscar could pull off saying something like that. the composure and leer cyst who has provided something for everyone -- ♪ something for everyone ♪ >> reporter: finds a lot to be embarrassed about these days. celebrations birthday tributes -- ♪ happy birthday dear stephen ♪ >> reporter: and talk like this from broadway legends. >> you think of icons, you know things on the wall or somebody who has already left the planet and he's walking living icon. >> reporter: you just hate a broadway theater named after you. >> i'm thrilled but deeply embarrassed. >> reporter: what was that like? >> embarrassing. i've never been fond of my name. sondheim doesn't sing. >> reporter: and now there are book parties to deal with. at 80 years old, he's just finished his first book. "finishing the hat." a collection of his lyrics and
memories from his broadway career that's lasted more than 50 years, 25 shows, more than 600 songs. what are the tricks to producing so much rich material? >> i like to fall asleep in the middle, because it's hard to write. i don't understand people sitting at a desk and writing. i don't get it. >> reporter: is this the lie down couch? >> yeah. i'll lie down for you. if i lie down i won't get up. there it is. that's it. >> reporter: it takes more than just lying down. >> one of the things i learned early on about theater and all about art is art needs surprise. otherwise, it doesn't hold an audience's attention. you need surprise. so, i like to surprise myself and i want to surprise ased a yuns. >> reporter: he has been full of surprises. "company" was the first musical without a defined linear plot. >> the little things you to do together. do together. perfect relationships. >> reporter: "sweeney todd," as
a mass murdering demon barber. ♪ good-bye joanna ♪ ♪ you're gone and yet you're mine ♪ >> reporter: but they haven't been all successes. some complain his music is cold impersonal, difficult to sing. and lacks mass appeal. and sondheim has had his run-ins with the critics. >> it's mostly reviewed by people who know nothing about what they're writing about. ♪ >> reporter: but for whatever small struggles there were there were also the stunning successes. "a little night music," now in revival, features a song, "send in the clowns." ♪ send in the clowns ♪ >> reporter: a song so culturely indelible that when you search for it on youtube, you find it covered dozens and dozens of
times. ♪ isn't it rich ♪ ♪ aren't we a ♪ ♪ send in the clowns ♪ >> reporter: despite all these tributes, sondheim wishes he could rewrite some of his greats successes. >> i don't mean they're terrible. they are so self-conscious. they are written with a capital w. >> reporter: and the ones you don't like -- a good example would be? >> oh, goodness gracious. i'm fond of quoting in "i feel pretty," a street girl is singing "it's alarming how charming i feel." puerto rican girl from the streets, it just makes me put my head under my wing and pretend i'm not there. >> reporter: and now all these years later, what about his place in this here teeater today? you think you're dated? >> i do. as a general qualify, i think the kind of music i write has a smaller and smaller and older
and older audience. >> reporter: is it upsetting? >> it's upsetting. that's an interesting word. no, it's -- it's sad. it makes me sad, yeah. i'm not saying it's all over but the heyday of the kind of music that i might write is over. >> reporter: but there are traces of that heyday everywhere. from high school stages to those broadway revivals. ♪ >> reporter: is there a sense of immortality to you and your work? >> i don't care about posterity. there are people who care. i couldn't care less what happens to my stuff after i die. >> reporter: you may not care about it but you have to admit it's going to be here. >> it would be nice to know i hope it will be. >> reporter: it's a safe bet. ♪ everything's coming up roses ♪
>> reporter: and that is an accomplishment that no one, not even stephen sondheim, should be embarrassed about. i'm john berman for "nightline" in new york. >> what a body of work. thanks to john berman for that report. when we come back a man faces prison for reading his wife's e-mail. that's the subject of tonight's closing argument. first, here's what's next with jimmy kimmel. jim? >> jimmy: tonight, jeff bridges, diddy, and his band diddy dirty money, we name our top clip of the year and "this year in